‘Smash’ Premiere Episode: Review Revue

Feb 7th, 2012 // 9 Comments

NBC has been hyping its Broadway-centered musical series Smash since last spring, and the pilot episode finally aired last night following The Voice. The reviews for the Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty vehicle, which follows the lives of two struggling actresses in competition to land the role of Marilyn Monroe on the Great White Way, weren’t exactly raves. See what critics had to say below, and then let us know whether you think Smash is a smash or not!

:: The Washington Post wasn’t wowed: “The pilot for Smash — a show that sets out to capture the lyric crafting and audition angst behind a potential Marilyn Monroe musical — is filled with suggestions of so much drama, drama drama. But there wasn’t a moment during the first episode when I tingled with any sense of anxiety or danger. This felt more like callback-conflict comfort food than an edgy, nitty-gritty look at the how the showtune sausage is made on Broadway.”

:: Nor the Huffington Post giving a standing ovation: “It sounds like a no-brainer hit aimed squarely at the crowd that used to love smart comedies like Frasier and Will & Grace. But now that the pilot for NBC’s much-hyped Smash has finally aired, I’m still not sure it can live up to its title… I will give Smash more time to win me over — I appreciate that it’s smart and upbeat, something NBC used to be really, really good at. If they manage to add funny and tuneful to the list, it might just be a smash.”

:: UK paper Telegraph weighed in with this: “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. Those lyrics of the song “New York, New York” imply the commitment of sweat, tears, grit, and passion required for success in the Big Apple. Unfortunately, none of that interesting struggle can be found in Smash — NBC’s pabulum take on The Great White Way.”

:: At least Entertainment Weekly had somewhat kind words for the first episode: “Based on the premiere, which did the internet version of playing out-of-town try-outs on NBC’s website, I think you’d have to say this was one damn lively show with a lot of promise… The only time I was truly bored (even contemplating McPhee’s limp phrasing is an intriguing exercise) was when any character recited a fact from Monroe’s life as though it was a revelation, or when we saw anyone ‘studying up’ on Monroe movies (catch up on Monkey Business on your own time, people!).”

:: Likewise, the Los Angeles Times was entertained while watching: “It’s all totally absurd, of course, but in a breathlessly wide-eyed and knowing way that is terrific fun to watch. And for every bit of bizarre business (are Julia and Frank the only people on the planet who do not know it takes a long time to adopt a baby from China?) there are seven or eight real-life details (‘We are not the chorus, we are the ensemble’) to keep things from floating too high into the rafters.”

:: Vulture pinpoints one of Smash‘s problems: “This series from Pulitzer-nominated playwright Theresa Rebeck (Omnium Gatherum) about the making of a new Marilyn Monroe musical keeps creating spellbinding musical moments, then yanking us out of them.”

:: CNN, however, predicts big things for the series: “With the possible exception of Homeland, this was the pilot this season that had me dying the most to see what happens next. It didn’t hurt that the way they left it off, with a terrific song — and Karen and Ivy almost running into each other before walking into callbacks — was absolute perfection. I think we’ll see more than a few Emmy nominations this summer.”

:: We’ll end with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which offers this: “…even if the odds are lower than the usual 20 percent success rate that greets all broadcast network prime-time series, viewers with a love of Broadway and good ol’ workplace dramas won’t regret tuning in for Smash, an entertaining drama that sucks you in and gets your toes tapping during several musical numbers.”

What did you think of the pilot episode of Smash? Was it a hit or a miss? Let us know in the comments below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!


  1. MusicManDave

    I love it and. Any wait to see more. Katharine has a wonderful voice and deserves some serious recognition.

  2. MusicManDave

    I love it and cant wait to see more. Katharine has a wonderful voice and deserves some serious recognition.

  3. morphy

    will not keep watching. way too many Broadway/NY cliches throughout the show.

  4. Francine

    I loved this show! Both ladies are so talented, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

  5. Miguel

    This show is drama, drama, drama and that is exactly why I liked it. I usually do not watch very much prime time, but I found myself channel surfing and came across it. I absolutely loved it! The above critics are going to see that it is the mass audience’s reviews that matters the most, and not the so called critics’ snippy little comments.

  6. liddylu

    Loved it, especially the last song. I hope all the Broadway fans out there help to make this a hit series. I can’t wait to see more.

  7. Sue

    I thought it was great! I think Katherine McPhee is amazing. I will be watching every week! I think the chemistry among all in the ensemble cast will make the show.

  8. carolyn

    Wasn’t a big fan- as the comment above stated, it was very cliche. Nothing really unpredictable at all and definitely didn’t keep me wanting more… If it is on, I will probably watch it but not a show I will want to race home to watch.

  9. Sebeko

    For ANYONE who is working, or has worked, professionally, meaning under an Actors Equity Association contract – which is the only way to work on a Broadway show – this world of Smash is total bull, B.S!! The lines of sexual harassment and union rules that are crossed as though it’s an everyday occurrence is ridiculous. Thanks NBC for giving me, as a teacher, another unreal representation of the world of the performing arts to use to guide my students. Like Glee wasn’t enough! Ugh! Most of dumbed-down, non-show biz Americans don’t know the difference, so you probably have a hit! Yay!

  10. uci

    Talented actresses, beautiful voice & good drama…just can’t wait to see what’s next episode.

  11. Frances

    This is now my favorite show! I do not really care if it is an accurate reflection—after a stressful day at work I just want to be entertained AND Smash is entertaining—I love the music, the acting… absolutely EVERYTHING!

  12. Frances

    You use tv shows to teach your students about the realities of performing arts? Really?

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